Why You Should Be Excited About The Las Vegas North Strip Soon!

Oh so much news about the North Strip! Many of you have most likely avoided going north of Wynn/Encore because there are long walks between not much. Even if you have to get up to SLS and Stratosphere Las Vegas (for whatever reason), the monorail has been the way to go. That is going to change dramatically in the next couple of years. Here’s a north-to-south overview of what to anticipate:

Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas

– The Stratosphere (and both Arizona Charlie’s) have been bought by Golden Gaming, which owns a few casinos scattered around Nevada (Pahrump and Laughlin), and more importantly operates the most dominant chains of bar and grills around Las Vegas (over 60 locations at my last count). They plan unspecified investments in the property. For now, what I’d look to is them taking all they’ve learned with their bars and non-Vegas Strip casinos and making things very easy on the wallet to lure people through the door.

– SLS(ahara) was recently sold to a Reno casino operator. Our hope was that he would bring Reno-style hospitality and pricing to The Strip. Unfortunately, that sale seems up in the air. Word is that, despite the intense renovation of the property, it still has significant problems and the price needs to come down to make the deal work. No word of what those issues are, but one has to assume they are infrastructure issues which were glossed over during the renovation. (I’m just making a guess here, not a statement). Those of you who have worked on old houses know that you can make the house look great, but that doesn’t mean the plumbing and electrical are new.

– The All Net Arena, on the old Wet ‘N’ Wild property just south of SLS, claims that financing is in place for them to build an NBA-style arena on the property. This has been in the world for years, and the principles have NBA connections. However, not so fast on this one. MGM Resorts will have none of this. If we get an NBA team, they want it in their own T-Mobile arena. So much so, that to build a relationship with the NBA, they just went out and bought San Antonio’s WNBA team and is relocating it to Las Vegas. (WNBA games will be in the smaller Mandalay Bay Events Center, not at T-Mobile. This due to the expected number of ticket sales per game).

– Nothing much new since we reported the sale of the Fontainebleau. I expect that we’ll hear something sooner than later, as the convention center expansion is slated to open in 2020. Given their proximity to this expansion, it would do them well to have the door open when that happens.

Circus Circus continues to be the red-headed step-child of MGM Resorts. However, don’t expect them to part with it anytime soon. They are just biding their time. They were instrumental in pushing the funding for the new convention center expansion, which is a stones-throw away. Just as they are remodeling, de-themeing, and upgrading the Monte Carlo, I’d expect a similar initiative with Circus around a year before the new convention space across the street comes online. The value of the property will rise dramatically in a couple of years. I find it unfortunate that MGM Resorts seems to love de-theming casino properties. However, all is not lost on the theme front…

Resorts World Las Vegas (old Stardust) has hired a construction manager, and multiple cranes are on-site and on the rise. This property will be seriously Asian themed and be the first themed casino to be built here since Paris Las Vegas opened in 1999. Nearly 20 years.

As always, we’ll keep you in the loop and continue to make you among the most informed visitors to Las Vegas.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Consumer Reporter Tries To Bash Las Vegas… My Retort

A television consumer reporter from San Francisco evidently hasn’t been here in many years…   but then acts like he knows his stuff. Reference:
Vegas squeezing money for cheap rooms with expensive drinks

Remember when drinks at a casino bar were inexpensive, a buck or less? Those days are now just memories. $6 beers? If you are lucky. $10 cocktail? That is the new normal.

I responded on that blog, but don’t know if the post will be accepted or not. So… here is my response:

With all due respect, the days of the $1 drinks were pretty much gone when I moved here in 1993. (The Plaza downtown was a holdout on that until around 2000).

And… Casino Royale Las Vegas still has $1 bottled beer (varies) and $1 frozen margaritas 24/7 right there on the Las Vegas Strip.

Food and drink specials ABOUND downtown. Just walk around. Want a big pizza and pitcher of beer? $10 at Benny’s Bullpen in Binion’s Las Vegas. $1.99 still buys the huge shrimp cocktail at Golden Gate. $2 Heineken or Corona at Fremont Hotel. Too many more to list.

On top of that, you did not factor in inflation at all. You cite prices from 20 years ago and then are shocked that they have gone up! (Despite the room rates being at 1990 prices in many instances here in Las Vegas).

Plus, the savvy Vegas visitor doesn’t buy his liquid refreshment at the bar. Most hotel sundry shops have a full liquor section (cold beer, wine, hard liquor) and much more modest prices and no tip needed. Also, stores like 7-11, ABC, and other similar convenience stores on The Strip are great places to buy your bottled water, soft drinks, and beer and more realistic prices.

Per a drink costing you more at a video poker machine? Maybe not. If you play properly, you are only giving away (on average) about a nickel per play (at $1.25 a pull). It would take 80 plays to (once again on average) lose the $4.00. Note: Those are averages. Sometimes you may lose quickly. Other times you’ll be up and walk away a winner.

Look… if I vacationed in San Francisco, I’d have to pay the same drink prices you are citing at any decent bar. Oh… except that I’d still be paying through the NOSE for a hotel room. Look at what brand new hotels like Aria, Palazzo, and Encore are charging per night for some of the nicer rooms in the world. Then look at what a comparable hotel in San Francisco (or New York City or Miami) would cost. Not even close.

A Las Vegas vacation is still a bargain with no equal. If you are just not the kind of guy who enjoys Las Vegas, don’t come. Vacation somewhere else (and pay a lot more money)!

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

So You Want To Move To Las Vegas? Real Advice From Someone Who Did!

Few visit Las Vegas without having some thought of what it would be like to live in Las Vegas. Typical comment in the summer is “I wouldn’t be able to stand the heat”. Others are tempted by the inexpensive new housing and escaping the cold winters of many parts in the country.

For whatever reason, thousands move hear each month. In fact, the suburb of Henderson, NV (which includes the Green Valley area) is the nations fastest growing city with a population of 100,000 plus, and the resort / retirement city of Mesquite, NV (one hour north of Las Vegas) is the nation’s fastest growing city.

According to DMV records, the top 10 states (in order of how many new residents that come from each) that new NV residents come from are:

1. California
2. Arizona
3. Texas
4. Illinois
5. Florida
6. New York
7. Hawaii
8. Colorado
9. Washington
10. Ohio

We have a guest column this week from Las Vegas resident Eric Simandl about his experiences and advice for those considering that move to Las Vegas. Eric notes that “two years after writing it, I still feel it’s an accurate list of preparations to make for a successful move to North America’s Greatest City”.

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We’re a late-40s couple who sold everything and moved here from Upper Michigan in March 1996. Here’s what we’ve learned in those 13 months:

1. Good jobs are tough to get for any newcomer, even for experienced talented intelligent people like you and us. They say some 6,000 people move here each month. They don’t always mention that some 2,000-3,000 also LEAVE each month. Because Las Vegas is and always has been such a transient area, employers are very leery of newcomers. People move here, give it a couple months, and bail. Employers want stability. Best bet is to register with every temp agency you can find, take every temp assignment you get and try to parlay it into a permanent position. (And in some ways, “juice” still counts in LV: job-hunting would be much easier with a couple good local references.) Anyway, make sure you’ve got enough money put away to ride it out on temp jobs until you get a decent position. May take a while.

2. When you arrive here without a job, it’s not easy to get a decent place to live. Since you can’t demonstrate any source of income, landlords tend to ask for hefty deposits or several months’ rent in advance. Hey, it’s a transient area, and they’ve been burned. Make sure you’ve got enough money to get a decent place for your family to live, furnish, cover utilities, and eat for a few months while you’re getting established.

3. If you don’t have a local residence and phone, how can you get a job? Or, for that matter, a bank account, driver’s license, license plates, voter registration, school enrollment? You want to look like a fully documented local on your job applications. Become one; get all this stuff and more.

4. It’s your life, but I wouldn’t want to raise a kid in Las Vegas right now. The Las Vegas schools are overcrowded; some run year-round schedules. Which means that Yale and Princeton are not exactly flying out here begging for LV HS graduates, which is exactly what your kid will be. The school system needs to add a classroom a day to keep up with the growth, and they aren’t. Are you sure the city’s ambience is any good for youngsters anyway?

5. Traffic problems are overrated. The traffic is not much worse than what Chicago or Detroit or LA or even Green Bay sees. Old-time locals complain; but it’s really typical urban North American traffic. Auto registration and insurance might be higher than what you’re used to back home. There’s a smog certificate. Gas is probably comparable. Repairs seem to cost more, but that’s subjective. Probably costs more to maintain a car here, but that’s offset by free or valet parking most everywhere. You’ve got 30 days after arrival to insure your car, pass smog, get a NV driver’s license, and buy plates. The cops are cracking down on non-registers, because it’s easier to deal with them with than to go solve that Tupac Shakur thing.
Despite all this, you’ll move here anyway.

We did. And we’re glad we did.

We (our grown daughter lives out East) did exactly what you’re doing. Sold everything (except the house in Negaunee which still hasn’t drawn an offer–and, oh by the way, sir, CAN you handle a year or more of making two house payments every month? It’s a crunch!), loaded the Ryder truck and split for Vegas.

[Well OK, we HAD flown out for three days a week earlier (on a cheap Fitzgerald’s gambling package), didn’t gamble (well, not too much), rented a car, leased an apartment, ordered the utilities, registered at several temp job agencies (with our newly-acquired LV address and phone number); flew back, sold or gave away everything that wasn’t going to go west in the Ryder.]

It’s been great. We’ve loved living here from the outset; but it’s taken the whole year to get our income back up to an equivalent “back home” standard of living (and Upper Michigan standards are pretty damn low), and to begin to focus on career advancement. Fortunately, we had some decent cash reserves to fall back on, and frankly, a pretty strong marriage to handle the stress.

Because there WILL be stress when you do this sort of thing…

Once here, you will notice that there are a lot of people living here who are about one paycheck from being homeless and broke. Maybe they’re next 2,000 to leave. This town sure does sort them out.

If you can handle the initial sacrifice, work hard, and are semi-lucky, you’ll be glad in the long run that you made the move.

We call Las Vegas the Warm Silly Place: it is GREAT to live here once you get established. It may be the quintessential North American city for the 2000s: vibrant, growing, shallow, flashy, and never taking itself too seriously.

But…if you did happen to have a few thousand acre-feet of water, could you bring them along when you come? You’ll make a few bucks.

This is really long and preachy. Maybe I should write one of those How To Move To Las Vegas books.

Maybe I just did.

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Eric Simandl can be reached at [email protected] and we thank him for this contribution.

Cheap Drinks And Ladies Night In Las Vegas

Between catering to tourist and serving locals (many whom have midweek nights off because of working the busy weekends), Las Vegas clubs go 7 nights a week. And with triple the number of major clubs as just a decade ago, they all try very hard for your attention. Here is a rundown of what some of the clubs offer on various nights of the week (info current at press time and subject to change):

THE DRINK – 200 E. Harmon
Tue. – Ladies Night: no cover and free drinks all night for the ladies
Thur. – The Boogie Knights (popular disco send-up): no cover before 10 and 2 hours of $2 drinks
Fri. – $1000 sexiest woman contest, $2 selected shooters, $3 premiums
Sat. – Bonofide (reggae band)

CLUB UTOPIA – on the Strip between the MGM and Alladin http://www.clubutopia.net/
Wed. – Ladies Night: no cover and free drinks all night for the ladies, Budweiser Bikini Contest
Thur. – Salsa All-Stars plus salsa dance competition
Fri. – Techno-House-Trance

ROCKABILLY’S – 3785 Boulder Hwy. (near Boulder Station) http://www.rockabillys.com
“Home of the All-U-Can Drink Draft Bottomless Mug”
Wed. – 25 cent Coors Light, wear beach attire and receive $1 off of any drink

THE DRINK – 365 Convention Center Drive (across from the convention center) http://www.beachlv.com/
Sun. – Ladies Night: ladies drink free from 10 PM – 12 AM
Mon. – Ladies Night: ladies drink free from 10 PM – 12 AM
Tue. – Cash Frenzy: win cash between 11 PM – 3 AM
Wed. – “Ultimate Ladies Night”: ladies drink free 11 PM – closing, Margarita Ville drink specials
Thur. – Crusin’ the Beach: classic cars, bikes, and music 7-10 PM

Who says that Las Vegas is a man’s world? Looks to me like the ladies get the best of it at the clubs! Las Vegas is a very nighttime oriented town. Although clubs do eventually close when pretty much everyone goes home, there is no real “last call”. Hence, clubs don’t tend to really pick up until around midnight and can still be going quite strong as 4 AM closes in. However, arriving before 11:00 PM is your only guarantee of skipping a long line on popular nights.

This article originally appeared July 14, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

The Great Las Vegas Flood Of 1999

Well, the entire Las Vegas Strip and downtown Fremont Street washed into the Gulf of Mexico. Your favorite slot machine? Gone. That friendly dealer or cute cocktail waitress? Washed away. Or so the national media practically had you believe. For the record, the heavy rains on July 8 lasted from about 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM and did cause problems for tourists. The Forum Shops and one pit area at Caesars had to be closed for 24 hours. The parking garage at Imperial Palace was closed until the rain stopped. The Strip itself had some high water, just high enough to run over the sidewalk and into Steve Wynn’s lake. A few shows were cancelled because suburban traffic snarls prevented people from getting in to work. Certainly an inconvenience for tourists who were unlucky enough to be in town, but they walked away with a story they can tell the grandkids.

The suburbs didn’t quite fare as well. 3 mobile home owners found out that they don’t float very well. 7 homes were destroyed. Somewhere around 100 homes and a couple hundred cars sustained flood damage. 2 people died: one in a weather-related car wreck just as the storm started and the other a homeless man who had been camping in the wash (our version of a creek) when the flash flood apparently washed him away. Because of mud on some streets and the general conditions from heavy rain, the evening commute wasn’t pretty and every Las Vegan out driving during the deluge has a story about how a 30 minute drive took 4 hours. But, just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

By 8:00 PM, people were playing tennis, driving around on errands (despite the occasional detour around a mud-filled road), and getting back to normal. As of this writing, it appears that FEMA probably won’t be offering much if any aid because while spectacular, the damage was not widespread. We feel deeply sorry for people affected by the loss of life and damage to property, but when you consider that this area has well over a million people (gee, you don’t all live on the Strip?), 99% of the population felt no residual effects and July 8, 1999 will just remembered as the day of the “big flood”. If you want to read the local coverage and see pictures, the Las Vegas Sun has photos online: Las Vegas Flood – July 8, 1999

This article originally appeared July 14, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas